Walz won't order Minnesota schools closed during cold snap

Gov. Tim Walz speaks about the federal government shutdown.
Gov. Tim Walz speaks about during a press conference inside the State Capitol in St. Paul, Jan. 15, 2019.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Gov. Tim Walz said Monday he will not call for a statewide closure of Minnesota schools due to the bitter subzero temperatures coming the next few days.

He said he'll defer instead to local school districts on decisions to open or close "because they know best the conditions in their area and how to keep their students safe."

School districts typically make their own individual decisions on whether it's too cold or snowy to hold school, although state law gives the governor power through the education commissioner to "alter school schedules, curtail school activities or order schools closed."

Walz said last week he was exploring whether to close schools statewide given the double-digit subzero forecasts through Thursday. Walz said Monday he remains in contact with officials at State Department of Education to keep monitoring the situation.

Statewide school closures

Here's a look at statewide school closings the past 25 years, via the Minnesota Department of Education.

• Jan. 18, 1994: Gov. Arne Carlson ordered all Minnesota public schools closed due to the extreme cold and severe winter weather. Morning air temperature readings were minus 26 degrees in the Twin Cities at 9 a.m. with a wind chill temperature of minus 48 degrees by the 2001 formula.

• Feb. 2, 1996: Carlson canceled schools for cold a second time. In the Twin Cities at 6 a.m., the air temperature was minus 30 degrees with a wind chill temperature of minus 48 degrees based on the 2001 formula.

• Jan. 16, 1997: Carlson canceled schools for a third time. Wind chill temperatures were minus 32 degrees in the Twin Cities.

• Jan. 6, 2014: Gov. Mark Dayton canceled schools statewide following 86 consecutive hours of subzero temperatures. It would have been the first day back for many districts following winter break, and there were concerns about buses not being able to start.

Lows were predicted to be 30 degrees below zero with wind chills reaching minus 50. Highs were predicted to only reach minus 15 from International Falls to Rochester.

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